Carl Nielsen, 1865-1931, is the most important figure in Danish musical life in the 20th century, exerting a great influence on later generations of Danish and Scandinavian composers. The symphonies, especially nos. 3-5, are at the very heart of his production, marked by an interesting treatment of motifs and rhythmical intensity.
Nielsen's ability to characterise is seen in his operas, Saul og David (1898-1901, Saul and David) and Maskarade (1904-06, Masquerade) and in lesser vocal works such as Fynsk Foraar (1921, Springtime in Funen).
His simple folksong-like songs became very widely known and still form an important part of Danish singing tradition. In chamber music, Carl Nielsen revealed a sense for the individual instrument, e.g. in his Quintet for Wind Instruments (1922), and this is also heard in his Violin Concerto (1911) and Flute Concerto (1926), and in the monumental organ composition Commotio (1930-31).
Carl Nielsen described his model, Mozart, in an essay which together with many of his other writings, published in Levende Musik (1925, Living Music) and the memoirs Min fynske Barndom (1927, My Childhood in Funen) exerted an influence on the musical views of the time, all supplemented by his work as a conductor.
Anne Ørbæk Jensen, Gyldendal Leksikon